embracing the emptiness…

To say I had an ‘aha’ moment this morning is a slight understatement. I was awakened a bit earlier than I had hoped, and since I have this stupid cough that won’t go away, I knew once my throat realized I was up, it was all over. So I just got up for my quiet-time and stumbled across something life-changing. {Or at least for me it was.}

Several days ago, while perusing free books on Amazon for my Kindle app, I came across one that looked like it might be what I needed. Waiting on God by Cherie Hill. {And…it was.} Cool thing though, she had added three bonus features so it was kind of like a few books in one. {holla} So I’ve been reading along, highlighting about every other sentence, when I got to the last bonus item entitled, Empty. {Yeah. Who wants to go there, right?} And it was then I had my ‘aha’.

It started with a verse.

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” {Jeremiah 2:13, NIV}

Then she begins.
Broken pots in mosque
“What’s a cistern? We certainly didn’t know we dug one and we definitely didn’t realize it was broken! The definition by Webster, gives us clear meaning: an artificial reservoir for storing liquids, especially water. Confusion gets the best of us as we try desperately to understand our emptiness. But there’s no need for confusion – we’ve simply misunderstood the purpose of our lives; and in order to be filled, we need to be poured out…because sin, our faulty thinking, our idea that being ‘empty’ is contrary to God’s best in our lives keeps us from being filled. And here’s where we get a clear understanding of emptiness. We’re empty because we’re more concerned about ‘feeling’ better than finding God.

“…we can live obediently, believe God, practice our spiritual disciplines, walk in the fullness of Christ, but trouble still comes and we still find ourselves empty. Through our daily struggles, we grasp the fact that simply ‘walking by faith’, following God’s plan, is not enough. It seems clear that even if we apply Biblical principles, we don’t always get what we want. That’s not the way we hoped faith worked.”

“What we really want through unpredictable struggles is someone we can trust. And without someone we can trust through it all, we do one of two things: We either pretend things are better than they really are or we find a way to relieve the pain. When we can’t find God in the emptiness of our souls, we tend to throw up defense mechanisms that keep us from being thrown into an abyss. We deny how much we struggle and hurt, we ignore our unanswerable questions and we keep telling ourselves that everything will be alright. We stand firm in our faith, from all outward appearances, declaring our love for Jesus, our love for others, and even profess to be finding our supply of strength from streams of Living Water. And yet, we feel that if we were to hear, ‘Just trust God,’ one more time, we might just be emptied enough to never want to be filled.

“In a moment of truth, when we’re consumed with relieving the pain behind our problems, we must come to grips with the fact that Christianity offers no simply formula for making life work the way we want it. We want solutions to our problems instead of a pathway to God.

Now here’s the whole point.

“As we struggle through our emptiness, another lie seeps into our soul’s reasoning, when we so wrongfully believe that if only God would show up, we’d feel better and our troubles would disappear. But finding God has never been about finding Him. He’s always been there. It’s when we find God that we find…ourselves. It’s in developing a passion to know Him that we are filled. And until we are filled with a passion to know Him in greater ways than we know Him at this very moment, we will never view our emptiness as an opportunity to experience God in greater ways than we could ever imagine. It’s in understanding the depths of our emptiness that we learn where to go to be filled. But, too often we’re consumed with the reality of our emptiness and we’re unable to get to God.”

“When emptiness descends upon us, our soul can cry out in gut-wrenching pain; unspeakable, unthinkable pain. We find ourselves unable to endure what we know to be true: life is painful and nothing satisfies. We find no relief, nothing is certain, there is no rest, and our greatest joys have been far outweighed by our present sorrows. We struggle down far too many paths that all lead back to ourselves, and we’re unable to find our way to God. We plead and hope for God to speak, but in a moment when we need Him most, there is nothing. Silence. We find ourselves beyond the reach of anyone but God and we’re suddenly faced with an emptiness that we never thought possible because we can’t even find Him.”

“As we pause for a moment and take a look at our lives, we realize that we have dug our own cistern, and clearly it it broken. We become consumed with supplying our own souls, arranging our lives around meeting our needs, instead [of] allowing God to fill us with His fullness. We’re passionately pursuing everything but Him alone, and we find ourselves…empty.”

“Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” {Luke 17:33, ESV}

“If we apply this to our poured-out lives, we find that it reads, ‘Empty yourself and you’ll be filled.’ Seems simply enough – but there’s nothing simply about it. We find our souls in twisted frustration because emptying ourselves is contrary to our two primary goals in life: 1. find a way to achieve happiness and, 2. influence and manipulate people and their resources to cooperate with achieving that goal. Even as Christians, we claim Heaven as our home, immigrants in a foreign land, but we live like we’re natives to the earth. It seems an impossible feat to have a passion for something other than our immediate satisfaction, and our temporary desires matter far more than God’s glory. We work feverishly to fill ourselves and only end up emptier.”

“We’d rather lie to ourselves and dig our own wells, than to admit to the terrifying truth that we desperately need God – a God who seems more absent than present. Our emptiness brings us to the end of ourselves. We are empty to that we will have the need to draw water. Our emptiness comes from God.” {Empty. Cherie Hill…some emphasis mine}

She goes on. And it gets deeper. {If that’s even possible.}

Here’s what stood out for me: I know God needs to fill me with Himself, but I fight the feeling of emptiness that comes over me as He is pouring me out. Even though I understand that, until I am empty, there is no room for Him.

Another kind of example…a person who is drowning is told to not fight their rescuer. But they usually do, don’t they? Because they are clawing for survival. And so they fight. Which can be fatal if they don’t stop. To both them and their rescuer.

Which is exactly what I do when I feel who-and-what I have based my identity on seeping out. And as it leaves me, I realize how much I depended on it rather than on God. And I also see how much security I placed in things that can fail me instead of placing my security in the only constant, which is God.

All the while calling myself a ‘Christ-follower’. {Umm, yeah}

Basically, I’ve dug my own cistern. Problem is, it’s broken, and it’s filled with only me.

And so…He empties me. Completely. Which hurts. And doesn’t make sense. But if I would just quit fighting the emptiness I feel and trust that when He has cleared everything not of Him out, I will be open for everything He has for me.

And yet, even knowing this, I still resist. {Silly human.} When what I really should be doing is…embracing the emptiness.

Because when there’s no more of me in there, there’ll be plenty of room for Him.

{Image courtesy of Flickr}

About suehill3k

I'm a stay-at-home wife, mom, and blogger. I love spending time with my family and enjoy sharing things I learn each day with them. Maybe something said here will help you along your way! God bless...
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